We talk a lot on this site about making fans (hell, the name of our book is Get More Fans, for god’s sake). It’s essential to your music career and the responsibility is on you alone. But what we’re really talking about when we say make new “fans” is actually make new friends.
I’m on Twitter a lot these days, making friends for my band Sensual Harassment. I read a lot of tweets from a lot of musicians who are constantly referring to their “fans” almost in a condescending way. While we’re sure you do have “fans” of your music, the context in which many musicians use this word is often self-aggrandizing. Unless you’re his Holiness, The Grand Bieber, you should probably avoid doing this (and even the Almighty Bieb has been chastised recently for such behavior). Further, your fans should not be some abstract concept or people you know nothing about. Your fans should also be your friends.
Friends let bands sleep on their floors. Friends support your live shows and buy merch. Friends buy your crappy clear 10″ vinyl that is taking up all the space in your closet. Friends tell other people about your music so that you can gain new fans. Friends join your street team and help you work the merch table. Friends help you get better shows and can take you to the front of the line for getting reviews or anything else. When you begin to think about your music career through this filter, making decisions for your band can become a lot easier. Would you send your good friend spammy emails 4 times a week about your band’s “big” show at Rooster’s Chicken Shack on Thursday? Doubtful. So think about the same thing when you consider sending something out to your fans.
While some young fans may really admire you, buy your music, etc., its still important to not treat them as second class citizens. You wouldn’t ignore a tweet, email, or even complaint from a friend, so don’t do the same with fans. Personal thank you emails to fans, bloggers, and everyone else matters (even though at times it may feel as if it doesn’t). Remember that your fans have other interests as well. Just because they follow you on Twitter doesn’t mean you’re the most important thing in their lives. Show interest in what they do, be authentic and continue to meet new people.
And don’t forget that you need more than internet friends – some connections are just better made in person, so if you’re trying to troll your way to the top from the secure spot of your granny’s basement, clogging up that WIFI, you might want to consider leaving the house once in a while. Remember that in this modern music era, it’s not record labels, not MTV, and not even blogs that are the most responsible for creating successful bands – it’s friends and fans. Get out there and get “friendly”.